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Article:2008 NL Team of the Future: Infield

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RULES - I will assemble a team of players to build the best team for the next five years.

- Salaries are not a factor.

- Whether or not the player will play for a major league team all five years or start for them is not a factor; therefore, i can select minor leaguers who may not be in the majors for two more years if I feel they are the best player to have. They will be starters on my team.

- The players do not have to be a certain age. Although, selecting Jim Thome may be a bad move because he would more than likely retire or fade very quickly.

First Base: Albert Pujols

Duh. Assuming Pujols stays healthy, no one can touch him at this position. Prince Fielder is a great, young talent and some other guys like Mark Teixeira and Fielder are talented, but no one is in the same league as Albert Pujols. With a career OBP of .420 and a career SLG in the .600s, Pujols should remain a perennial MVP-candidate for at least the next five years.

Second Base: Chase Utley

Not as easy a pick as Pujols, but still relatively simple. Converted outfielder Kelly Johnson has a superb bat, especially at a weak-hitting position. Dan Uggla has big pop in his bat, and Rickie Weeks is still full of potential, but Utley is in his prime years, coming off of a career-best .976 OPS season. Throw in Utley's value on defense and the basepaths and you have yourself an MVP-caliber player.

Third Base: David Wright

This position has studs like Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun, but this was still a cinch of a pick. Last season, former highly-touted prospect Wright became an elite player. Wright surpassed the .400 OBP mark, stepped his HRs up to 30, and showed skill and smarts on the basepaths with 34 steals in 39 attempts, all while playing above-average defense at the hot corner for the NY Mets. Wright should start polishing off his shelf for some future MVP trophies.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez

Yet another easy selection for the NL squad. Jimmy Rollins was the NL MVP last season, but Ramirez and Jose Reyes are 5 and 4 years younger than Rollins, respectively. Reyes, another name bounced around for NL MVP last year, does not match up to Ramirez in any facet of the game. Both are spectacular basestealers and have shaky fielding records, but Ramirez is no match for Reyes in on-base ability (.369 vs. .330) and power (.520 vs. .426).

Catcher: Russell Martin

This position has a formidable runner-up in Brian McCann, but the pick has to be Martin. At 25 years old, Martin is coming off of a .293/.374/.469 season with excellent defense. Martin still has tons of upside to go along with that performance.

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